A new, pay-what-you-can-afford market is putting the high cost of fresh produce back within the reach of Calgarians.
Kin Market and Kin Café officially launched in Calgary on Tuesday with its simple and straightforward approach to getting things like fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, eggs and other pantry items into the hands of Calgarians who might have otherwise shelved the idea of buying due to cost.
“We’re here to fill a gap where, you know, people can’t afford groceries for whatever reason, maybe they’ve lost their job, maybe they’re a single mother, you know, inflation on groceries has gone up,” explained Paul Annunziello of the Leftovers Foundation, a food rescue charity that came up with the idea for the market.
According to Annunziello, food insecurity among Canadians has increased, and the reliance on food organizations like Leftovers has grown by more than 70 per cent since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Actually, we had this… idea, and originally, it started out before COVID hit,” explained Annunziello. “And now with COVID being here — you know, some of these people losing their jobs or, you know, they’re down to part-time hours, their budgets are tight — we’re really seeing the need increase.”
The pay-what-you-want model was created through community with community-building in mind.
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“This model, it’s really for everyone,” said Annunziello. “It’s going to take both types of people. It’s going to take people who need, you know, to be able to only afford $10 for groceries or $1 for their coffee, but it’s going to take the next person in line to step up and say, ‘I’m going to pay a little bit extra to cover my neighbour’s groceries.'”
The market operates with funding from the YYC Food Security Fund and several other donors, including Fresh Routes and the YMCA, which has provided space for the market at each of its Saddletowne and Shawnessy locations.
The volunteer-run Kin Café is fuelled by coffee and donuts from two local shops and is open to the public from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. — every Monday through Friday — at the Shawnessy YMCA.
“People just want connection,” said café volunteer Maya Zucchelli.
“I think I’ve been surprised by the conversations I’ve had with people and the amount that people want to talk about whatever’s going on in their life.”
Kim Goodwin lives close the Shawnessy YMCA and stopped by for a coffee after visiting the library. She said she felt good about paying full price for the hot drink.
“It’s a neat community initiative to be able to give back in a different way,” Goodwin said.
Annunziello said donations and volunteers are always welcome to help ensure that Calgarians in need can continue to have access to fresh and healthy food from the market.
“We want people to be able to shop with dignity,” Annunziello said. “We want people to feel comfortable (so that) there’s no guilt (and) there’s no shame to just get what they can.”